LATICS 1 BRADFORD CITY 0Haris Vuckic’s goal 10 minutes from time gave Latics a crucial three points in their bid to seal an automatic promotion place, as they edged out Bradford City in an entertaining game.
Latics had the ball for long spells, but struggled to carve out a definitive opportunity – particularly in the second half, until substitute Craig Davies combined well with Vuckic, to provide the goal which sealed a win which could well prove to be crucial in May.
The result means Latics stay in second place, six points behind leaders Burton, and ahead of third placed Walsall on just goal difference, after the midlands side bagged two late goals to stay hot on the Blues’ heels.
Latics boss Gary Caldwell named an unchanged eleven from the side which grabbed a last gasp point at Colchester last week, meaning a home debut for Stephen Warnock.
The familiarity seemed to assist Latics, who made a bright start in a really entertaining contest, in which both teams looked dangerous from the offset.
It was the visitors who had the first chance of the game inside of the first two minutes, when Kyel Reid burst into the area from the left hand side, and tested Jaaskelainen with a low effort.
Latics responded three minutes later through Colclough, who showed good speed when breaking down the right, only to swing in a cross that nobody was there to meet.
The atmosphere was electric in the DW Stadium, with all four sides making plenty of noise early on, and the fans seemed to help the tempo of the game, which continued to be fast and furious.
Latics' fans who almost went into pandemonium on the ten minute mark, when Yanic Wildschut smashed the ball against the post with his low effort.
The winger picked the ball up on the left hand side and unleashed an effort from 25 yards, which beat Ben Williams, but clanged against the outside of the left post.
Bradford City soon recovered though, and both sides began to cancel each other out, in a fluid contest.
Latics continued to have the better of it, and Ryan Colclough showed shades of his excellent goal against Bury here in February, when he cut inside from the right and curled an effort at goal.
He couldn’t quite put enough fizz onto his effort on this occasion however, and Williams was able to collect.
Caldwell’s men started to take control in the latter stages of the first half, but struggled to carve out a definitive chance despite seeing plenty of the ball, and were left to settle for a goal-less score at the interval.
The game continued its frenetic pace in the second half, and it was Bradford City who started the brighter, pressing Latics’ defence from the offset.
The visitors had a big chance to go in-front in the opening sixty seconds, when the ball sat up for Kyel Reid six yards out, but the forward couldn’t quite connect with the low cross, and Latics survived.
Bradford continued to have the better of it for much of the second half, but just like the first, it was a contest of few clear cut chances.
Latics were forced to really dig in for a ten minute period on the hour mark, and the Bantams produced a big chance on 68 minutes, when the ball was headed down for Lee Evans, who blasted it high and wide with his first time effort on the edge of the area.
The visitors continued to look strong, but it was a game of ‘almosts’, and the theme continued on 73 minutes when Billy Clarke just failed to get on the end of a good move six yards out.
The game looked booked for a goal-less draw, but as usual, Latics wouldn’t give up, and they got their reward ten minutes from time, as substitute Haris Vuckic popped up to score a crucial late winner.
The forward picked up the ball after good work from Craig Davies, who showed good strength to win the ball in the area and feed Vuckic on the left hand side, who ran past Williams and tucked it home from a tight angle.
The DW Stadium was electric, and the atmosphere spurred the lads on to see out the game, and seal what could well prove to be a crucial three points.